Food News

Florida Man Sues Cracker Barrel, Claims Gay Discrimination

With America's top court striking down key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act and the military repealing its "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy recently, you'd think that gay people in this country would catch a break at work.

But not John Bostick apparently, an employee at a Bradenton Crack Barrel who is suing his employer for allegedly discriminating against him because he is gay.

In the lawsuit filed May 17 in a Tampa federal court, Bostick alleges that he has repeatedly experienced verbal harassment and discrimination by his superiors at the Bradenton restaurant, who were in charge of training him to be a general manager.

After working for the company for several years in South Carolina and receiving high evaluations, Bostick began a management program and was transferred to the Bradenton store to complete his training.

According to court documents, Bostick was purchasing some candy and a card in the store's gift shop when his associate manager, Matt Donahue, approached him and said, "Purchasing candy for your boyfriend? How sweet." But when Bostick reported his behavior, the manager said he was "just playing."

In another instance, Bostick alleges that the Donahue harassed him while speaking to four customers at a table, believing that the customers were homosexual, saying to Bostick, "Tell your buddies, 'cause that's what you call each other, to visit somewhere else. This is a family operation."

And in another instance Bostick was approached by a customer who was displeased with their order. When offering to replace their meal for free, the customer refused, but Donahue allegedly interjected, saying that the customer was "probably afraid he'll catch AIDS from you" in front of restaurant staff and other customers.

Bostick, of course, reported all of this to the general manager, Tim Keesler, but says all he got in response was a series of reprimands, a reduction of hours, and a shift away from responsibilities that would have led him to become a general manager for Cracker Barrel.

Bostick is seeking unspecified damages. A spokeswoman for Cracker Barrel declined to comment because of pending litigation.

Read the lawsuit in its entirety here:

Bostick v CrackerBarrel by DaveMinsky

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David Minsky is U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky